Danish government confirms plan to extend coronapas rules to workplaces

The government wants to extend current coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) rules to encompass public sector workplaces.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to introduce the requirement for a valid coronapas at public workplacess
Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to introduce the requirement for a valid coronapas at public workplaces. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

At a briefing on Friday, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to introduce the requirement for a valid coronapas at public workplaces, extending current rules for the documentation at bars, restaurants and events.

For the extended rules to take effect, parliament must first vote through a bill which was tabled by the government this week.

Additionally, the minister wants the government’s advisory Epidemic Commission to look at the possibility of requiring the coronapas in a broader range of circumstances than is currently the case.

Heunicke also said he wants the Commission to consider whether the period for which a negative Covid-19 test can provide for a valid coronapas can be reduced.

Currently, unvaccinated people can hold a valid coronapas for 96 hours through a negative PCR test, or 72 hours with a rapid antigen test.

“That’s a long time and we know with the Delta variant that it can pass the infection on (sooner),” the minister said.

An agreement between the government and labour organisations last week paved the way for the bill, tabled on Thursday, which will allow private companies to demand their staff show a valid coronapas.

Should it be passed, the government will apply it at public sector workplaces.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Infections at Danish schools reach record level

Member comments

  1. From the first country to completely remove covid measures, to this, in a period of weeks. What to say, one of the two decisions had to be kind of wrong.

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Why Danish government is considering more scope for epidemic restrictions

The Danish government must currently receive the backing of parliament before implementing major interventions in response to a public health threat such as the Covid-19 pandemic. But an evaluation by two ministries suggests they favour more flexibility on the area.

Why Danish government is considering more scope for epidemic restrictions

Under current laws, parliament must vote to approve the categorisation of a disease as a ‘critical threat’ to society (samfundskritisk).

Only when a disease or an epidemic has been categorised in this way by parliament can all  of the interventions available to the government under the epidemic law be brought into play.

In other words, the government must face parliamentary checks and controls before implementing restrictions.

Those interventions range from the most invasive, such as lockdowns and assembly limits, to less invasive, but still significant, measures such as face mask mandates and health pass requirements like those seen with the coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Denmark decommissions country’s Covid-19 health pass

The Ministry of Health now wants to change the existing structure within the Epidemic Law, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported on Monday.

In an evaluation, the ministry proposes a change to the rules such that requirements for things like face masks and the coronapas can be introduced for diseases that are not only in the ‘critical threat’ category, but also for those rated an almen farlig sygdom, ‘dangerous to public health’.

This would put some of the restrictions in the lower category which is not subject to parliamentary control.

The evaluation was sent by the health and justice ministries to parliament in October but has escaped wider attention until now, Jyllands-Posten writes.

In its evaluation of the epidemic law, the Justice Ministry states that there is a “large jump” between the small pool of restrictions that can be introduced against ‘dangerous to public health diseases’ and the major societal interventions the government – with parliamentary backing – can use once a disease is classed as a ‘critical threat’.

“This jump does not quite seem to correspond with the actual demand for potential restrictions against diseases dangerous to public health, which can spread while not being critical to society,” the ministry writes.

The health ministry said in the evaluation the “consideration” should be made as to whether less invasive measures should continue to pass through parliament, as is the case under the current rules.

The national organisation for municipalities, KL, has told parliament that it backs the thinking of the ministries over the issue but that parliamentary control must be retained.

The Danish Council on Ethics (Det Etiske Råd) told Jyllands-Posten that it was “very sceptical” regarding the recommendation.

“The council therefore points out that a slippery slope could result if the restrictions, interventions and options that can be brought into use with diseases that present a critical threat to society, can also be used with dangerous diseases like normal influenza,” the council said.

The minority government’s allied political parties all stated scepticism towards the proposal, in comments reported by Jyllands-Posten.

In a written comment, the health ministry told the newspaper that Health Minister Magnus Heunicke would discuss committee stage responses with the other partied before deciding on “the need for initiatives”.